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Premises liability claims may follow Honolulu high-rise fire

On July 14, a fire broke out on the 26th floor of the Marco Polo high-rise building in Honolulu. Three people lost their lives in the blaze, and several others suffered injuries while dozens were evacuated. Reportedly, some residents who were fortunate enough to escape were unaware of the danger until they checked to see what caused the commotion. This was because the building lacked audible fire alarms, a fact that may lead to premises liability lawsuits.

Authorities say an engineering firm recommended the installation of an upgraded system after a fire in 2013, but the owners of the property decided against the $1.2 million upgrade. The 36-story high-rise was constructed in 1971 at which time the Hawaii fire code did not include standards for sprinklers, smoke detectors, alarms and flashing lights in the hallways. Although there is said to be an existing fire alarm system, many residents did not hear it during the recent fire.

The mayor of Honolulu introduced new standards for residential complexes after the July 14 fire. These would require the installation of sprinkler systems and fire alarms throughout the building that would be loud enough for all to hear. Officials said most of the older high-rises on the island lack these safety features.

Property owners are required to provide accommodations that will not threaten the safety of tenants. The surviving family members of people who die when residential complexes catch fire can explore the viability of wrongful death claims in pursuit of financial recovery. Injured victims have the same right, and an experienced premises liability attorney will provide the answers to their questions.

Source: hawaiitribune-herald.com, "Honolulu high-rise had outdated fire alarms", Cathy Bussewitz, July 29, 2017

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